Gary_Ash

1932 Studebaker Indy car build

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Gary,  You are cranking down on the finish line.  You have sure run a  race on this project, but what a car you will end up with!   Keep up posted on how the mechanics turn out.

Al

 

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There are some skills I learned over the years, and some I didn't.  Engine rebuilding falls into the category of "I didn't learn that".  It also takes lots of clean space to do properly, and I just didn't have it available.  But, my friend Jerry is skilled at this, has the space, and he has the proper equipment.  So, I loaded the engine block we selected for rebuild into my small utility trailer - after replacing the 18 year old rotted tires - and drove the 400 miles down I-95, I-287, I-78 and I-81 to central PA to drop off the engine at his house.  Fortunately, we only got a few drops of rain late in the day, in spite of the bad forecast.  The blue tarp I wrapped around the engine stayed in place and kept the block dry.  Along the way, we stopped at Librandi's Plating shop near Harrisburg, PA to drop off the grille shell for chrome plating.  My wife accompanied me on the trip to keep me entertained and awake, but this also meant she heard Mitch at Librandi's give me an estimate of the minimum cost to grind, polish, repair, and chrome plate the shell.  You all know the eye roll when the big numbers come in.  There will be quid pro quo to pay for this, but it's all part of life.  In a month or two, Jerry will rebuild the engine and well go back to get it.  Maybe Librandi's will be done with the radiator shell, but they did say it's busy season and 10-12 weeks might be the time scale.  Maybe December and January are the best times to get stuff replated. 

 

Now I'm busy taking the car completely apart so that the chassis rails and cross members can go to the paint shop.  It will take about 10 hours to get the car completely apart, but then the pieces can be painted all over.  I just hope I have all the holes drilled in the chassis that I'll need.  I also hope that it goes back together quickly, though I'll clean and paint the steering box, shock mounts, cockpit frame, etc. as I go.  At least it is warm enough outside now to paint.  

 

However, if you need to drive to central PA, we highly recommend the Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, PA, not far off I-78.  It's one of those old  8-9 story brick piles from the 1920s-1930s that has maintained its style and quality.  It isn't cheap, but they are friendly, the rooms are first rate, the staff is accomplished, and the food and bar are first class.  Within walking distance are many great restaurants and there is a bagel place for breakfast across the street and an ice cream place owned by the hotel. 

 

 

engine hoist 1.jpg

engine hoist 2.jpg

engine hoist 3.jpg

engine hoist 4.jpg

hotel-bethlehem.jpg

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Hello Gary,

What are you having done for the cam?  Does your friend have the ability to regrind to jazz up the engine a bit over stock?  You are certainly at the best part of a project, the finish line!  Keep up the work!

Al

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The cam is an interesting subject.  I sent away to the Studebaker National Museum for the drawings for the cam, so I have the exact profile.  The stock profile is:

ITO: 15° before TDC, ITC: 49° after LDC, EVO: 54° before LDC, EVC: 10° after TDC.  Lift is 0.343".  This profile was used in the Studebaker 250 cu in straight 8's and also in the large Commander 6 flat head engines (226/245 cu in) right through the 1960 trucks.  Based on the Ray Kuns' article from 1935, the Studebaker Indy cars using the 337 cu. in. straight 8's used 8°/52° and 40°/20° for timing, so I tried that.  I also got the timing for a Crane cam used in hopped-up Chrysler straight 8's from Eric Andersen who owns the Art Rose car from the 1930's; it was 6°/40° and 50°/4°.  I plugged all these profiles into my old Dyna 2000 engine modeling software to see if any cam profile really stood out.  The stock Studebaker profile was as good as anything else, so I think we'll just use it.  The software modeled the stock engine very close to what the published data were, so I have some confidence in the predictions.  I used 7.0 to 8.0 for compression ratio, individual runner intakes, stepped tube exhaust headers to approximate how the engine will be built.  Changing the valve lift didn't make any difference.  The valves are almost touching in the block, so they can't be bigger (1.406/1.281 diameters).  I'm hoping to shave .030-0.060" off the head to raise compression to 8:1, but that may not be possible with the combustion chamber shapes and potential valve interference.  It's really up to the four carbs and open exhaust to boost the horsepower.  The models predict about 190-200 hp at 4000 rpm with 200-250 ft-lb torque pretty much over the 2000-4000 rpm range, a good increase from the stock 115 hp.  I'm thinking of redline near 4200-4400 rpm, but I'm not going to be drag racing, so it's really the 2000-4000 rpm range that counts.  It will be plenty in a 2500 lb car.

 

What a "3/4 race" cam might do is change the cam ramp so that the valves really do open sooner even if the timing and total lift don't change.  I'll talk to Jerry to see if he has a shop that can do this.  It usually entails grinding down the back side of the cam and reshaping the lobes.  It then becomes a question of whether the lifters, springs, and lobes can survive the higher acceleration and forces.  I want to be a little conservative because the engine block and rotating parts are not easily (or cheaply) replaced.

 

Stude250str8_cam_comparison.jpg

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Just reread the entire thread.........fantastic build. Looking forward to see it running down the road. Best, Ed.

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Having taken the engine to the shop for rebuild, I pulled the rest of the car apart so that the pieces can be painted.  It took about 2 days to disassemble it.  Now it looks like a kit of parts to make a car.  I have bags and bags of bolts, all carefully marked.  I have to drill a few more holes in the frame rail and weld up some holes that should not be there, but that won't take long.  Each frame rail weighs about 50-60 lbs, so it's manageable to haul to the paint shop.  Most of the stuff is already primed, but it will need to be thoroughly degreased.  All the chassis parts get painted a pale gray, most of the mechanical bits and accessories will be black, engine and transmission will be Bell Telephone Green.  After painting, I hopes it goes back together as quickly.

 

Oh, the mannequin in the back of the garage is Larkina, the shop manager.  She doesn't say anything, but she keeps a watchful eye on the place.

Indy car chassis disassembled.jpg

Indy car chassis parts.jpg

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Are you going to use any powder coating or just a typical paint product?

Al

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Given a choice, I'd use something like the old DuPont Centari acrylic enamel.  A couple of my other cars got painted with that, with a little hardener added just before spraying.  I got the remaining paint in a can, no hardener added, and have used it to touch up chips, etc.  But, no more Centari available.  I'm hoping for some other single-stage paint to be used, maybe a urethane.  Powder coat is nice, but how do you touch it up later?

 

I finished welding up the 22 holes in the frame rails, drilled and tapped for 1/4-20 threads, that the chassis builder put there to "help" me, but they were all in the wrong places for mounting the sheet metal.  I ground the weld plugs flush, wiped down the rails with solvent, and gave them a fresh coat of self-etch primer.  In a week or so, the chassis goes to the paint shop.  I just have to pick out the gray color I want.  Who knew it would be difficult to choose gray, but they can be tinted brown, red, green, blue, whatever.  Nothing seems to match the photos I have of the other cars.  Eventually, the body will be painted 1963 Studebaker "Silver Mist" with a little less aluminum flake and smaller flakes.  The 1932 Indy car bodies were painted with "metallic" paints that used ground fish scales for iridescence before aluminum flake was common.  Fish scales didn't hold up well to sunlight.  Here's a 1963 GT Hawk with the Silver Mist.  I know, I know, I could just polish the aluminum body, but I'd have to keep polishing it too frequently.

1963 GT Hawk-Silver Mist.jpg

1932#25carart.jpg

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Lots of stuff happening all at once.  The engine is out for rebuild, just searching for the last of the main and rod bearings, but found most of them.  The paint shop will take in the chassis next week.  I ordered a 5" tach and smaller voltmeter from Autometer with a customer dial for the tach to almost match the other 1932 instruments, and those arrived.  The gas gauge got checked out at Bob's Speedometer, works OK.  The speedometer, ammeter, and oil pressure gauges are ready.  I need to order a fuel cell with correct sensor range, but a 12-15 gallon size should be OK and fit easily in the back of the tail section.

 

Some weeks ago, I arranged with a Russian software company (HUM3D.com) to create a 3D computer model of the entire car - not cheap.  I sent them about 200 photos of the original cars, my car as it currently exists, a partial 3D CAD model that I created, and various other files.  From those, they made an incredibly detailed 3D model of the car, right down to the rivets and leather upholstery, as well as the engine and most mechanical bits.  The model has everything in component levels, so that I can actually select an item and edit it.  Changing the paint color is easy.  The full 3D file is almost 100 MB, but I was able to make a 3D PDF file that is about 8.3 MB that seems to include all the details and is easy to manipulate.  I can even turn off various components like the hood and engine compartment side panels to show the engine.  Here are some screen capture views of the model.

Studebaker_Indy_500_1932_silver25.png

Studebaker_Indy_500_1932_silver25-rear-engine.png

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Nice!  The GT is a nice looking car also.  What engine and trans does it have?  I am impressed with your 3D pictures.  I hope you are keeping track of all the different part numbers for the bearings and small rebuild pieces.  Some of us have a vested interest in that information.  You are getting close to the finish line, keep up the work.

Al

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As can be seen in one of the photos above, the gas filler is located on the rear deck.  It has a 3" diameter cover that is hinged and a flip lever to lock it down.  One of my car buddies is trying to arrange to get one machined, so I drew the pieces in CAD and 3D printed them out.  I'm glad I did that because I found a few issues.  It's easy to update the drawings and reprint the pieces.  We'll probably do this in brass on some CNC equipment, but it may also be possible to investment cast them in silicon bronze.  They'll be polished and chromed.  An R clip (hairpin) is used as a positive lock in addition to the over-center cam lever.  It will have a Viton gasket for sealing.  Here is the prototype assembly in white PLA plastic.

 

gas cap original.jpg

gas cap closed.jpg

gas cap open.jpg

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The chassis pieces are at the paint shop.  I was able to stuff the 12 ft long rails into my Ford Expedition, front end on the dash, back end against the tail gate.  All the other pieces plus the cross members fit into a plastic milk crate.  The paint shop called to say that the paint code I gave them, an interior gray for a 2018 Chevy Bolt, wasn't obtainable from their vendors.  I had used the "color picker" function in Photoshop Elements to get a computer code from some photos I have of several Indy cars.  I don't think the existing cars have the same chassis color, but they are all light gray, non-metallic.  After reviewing the codes that Photoshop gave me, I found another gray paint that is very close.  It's the light gray used on old Ford 8N tractors from the 1950's.  Several suppliers make single-stage paints that match the color including Tractor Supply and Rustoleum.  The paint shop was happy that a simple solution was found and I'm happy that I can buy matching paint in the future if I need to touch up anything.

 

 

Gary_Ash_Indy_car_18_sm.jpg

chassis gray paint-18.jpg

Ford_8N_Tractor (Small).JPG

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)

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On 1/3/2014 at 4:00 PM, Gary_Ash said:

I'm in the middle of building a replica of a 1932 Studebaker Indy car. There was a prototype in 1931 (Hunt-Jenkins Special #37) and four more factory-sponsored cars in 1932. Most of them still exist, in one form or another. One (#22) is in the Indy Speedway Museum.

I had a frame made by Charlie Glick in Paris, IL. He did a very good job copying the chassis of the car in the Indy Museum, but there are a few niggling details that I need to adjust. I've been drawing the car in 3D CAD to get the parts placement right. This week, I discovered, several years after getting the chassis, that rear frame end is about 7 inches low compared to the original cars. The photo of #22 below shows the rear spring shackle eye at about the same height as the top of the frame rail. The other cars look about the same.

Here's a plan I am thinking about: I can live with moving the rear spring shackle eye up about 3 inches or so, don't need all 7 inches. However, any change at all involves cutting the frame about where the kickup is highest over the rear axle. The chassis is basically a "C-section" there about 4.6" high with 2" deep flanges top and bottom. 1/8th inch thick steel. I think I can cut a pie slice out of the chassis rails about .6" wide at the top flange and narrowing to a point at the bottom flange, but leaving the bottom flange uncut to keep things aligned. Then I can rotate the back 20 inches or so of the frame upward about 7.5 degrees and re-weld it. I can bevel the cut edges, weld on both sides, grind it smooth, then weld on a 1/8"-1/4" thick gusset or fish plate on the back side of each rail where it won't show.

Has anyone cut and re-welded a chassis like this? I don't like butt welds for this but I don't see any other choices, and an overlapping gusset plate should restore the stiffness. The rails are mild steel, not high strength alloy. They make stretch limos and re-weld the frames, but usually the frame rails don't show - mine do, so I can't gusset both sides or box the rails. Any suggestions?

More pictures and info about the project on my web site at http://www.studegarage.com.

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I have an original I believe but can’t find enough research to support my find. Any ideas? From what I am finding it’s a 1932

model A Ford speedster 1 1/2 seat with an original miller racing head. 

BB8369F5-5EA3-4700-94FA-44DED2A3299E.jpeg

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Nice start to a great project.  Can you take a few more and better pictures to show inside, engine, front axle etc.  Is this a car you plan to work on or resale?  If you keep it as a project, it would be nice for you to start your own forum thread on this one.  We would all like to follow along and your progress.

Al

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I was back at Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop this past weekend (May 10-12) for some more 13-hour days of metal shaping on the tail for the car.  All the pieces had been previously formed and some welded together, but it was finally time to do some serious assembly.  I had thought that the forming of the 10 pieces was going to be the most time consuming step - I was wrong.  Wray wanted each panel tuned to the exactly correct shape and smooth enough to not need any Bondo before paint.  The pieces got tacked on the outside, welded on the inside, and then welded on the outside to make a continuous seam without pits.  Using small pneumatic angle grinders (Harbor Freight, Home Depot, Tractor Supply), the weld was ground down almost flush with the panel, then it was planished by hand and with the pneumatic planisher.  Additional leveling of the seam and surrounding was done with steel slapper and dolly until a body file could cleanly scrape away any red Dykem.  An HF orbital grinder with 2" pads of 80 and 120 grit were used to completely smooth the weld area, making the seam almost invisible.  Because the weld metal is a slightly different color than the 3003 sheet, you can still see the seam if you look hard enough.  The slapping, filing, and grinding took hours for each seam.  The inside of the weld has to be ground flush , too, so that the part can fit in the English wheel.  We finished up by wheeling the seam and surrounding area to get a very good finish and shape that flows correctly.  There are no flat surfaces, all are convex to one degree or another.

 

I'm now down to having just two pieces to join together, the left and right halves.  The challenge will be to weld and finish the sharp back edge of the tail where it can't be clamped and access to the inside will be difficult.  I'm getting better at the metal shaping, but it's still Wray who welds and tunes the surfaces.

tack welds.jpg

Tacked seam

 

weld seam.jpg

Fully welded seam

 

weld and grinder with wax.jpg

3" angle grinder with 50 grit and wax

 

weld grinders.jpg

Assortment of grinders

 

slappers and dollies.jpg

Slappers and dollies with shot bag

 

planishing.jpg

Wray with planishing hammer of his own design

 

metal body file.jpg

Filing the surface after Dykem spray to reveal low spots

 

tail inside.jpg

Inside of tail showing location of weld seams

 

tail on buck.jpg

The two sides on the wire form buck.  After 3 days of 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, I'm pretty tired.  Wray's Packard roadster project in the rear.

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Gary, Your efforts are paying off!  Your racer is going to be blessed with a terrific body!  I am dismayed that all the good tech stuff is either on one coast or the other.  The piece of your body that is in the above picture con sits of how many joined together pieces?  I have used the "warm" Ford grey on a couple of po4rjects myself and like it!  To me, you have chosen the color wisely, but that is not my call anyway.

Al

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Al, if you look at the photo just above  of the back side of the tail, you can count the five pieces that make up each half.  There is about 6 ft of weld seams in each half, plus joining the halves will take another 6 ft of welding and finishing.  Each half is now about as big as even a tall guy like Wray can handle on an English wheel, but you would never want to try making it as one piece..

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)

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Wow......body work with "no body work" just welding and dressing the seams.......thats about then thousand light years ahead of my abilities. Coach building with no fillers is a truly amazing feat...........craftsmanship beyond anything I have seen in years. Great job.......

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Hello Gary,  What is your latest progress on the Indy Car?

Al

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I was back at Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop this past weekend to work on the tail section of the car.  After many moons, we finally got the tail pieces welded together.  It was pretty tricky to pull the two halves together to minimize the gap, so we had to use the air saw to trim interfering bits away.  Wray used the TIG to put in a series of spot welds that gradually pulled the gap down to 0.010"-0.020" over most of the 5 feet that needed to be welded.  At one point, I had to climb into the tail and hold a strip of copper behind the widest points of the seam to enable it to be filled from the outside.  Later, Wray ran the TIG torch down the inside to finish the seam.  We ran out of time (again), so my next visit will be focused on grinding the weld bead, annealing the weld zone, and dollying the joint to make it the right shape and completely smooth.  It isn't too bad now, but it needs to be just a little better.

 

While at Pro Shaper, I got most of the wire form done for the seating area.  The driver sits 4" forward of the "riding mechanic" and the seats are not quite 16" wide.  The drive shaft passes just under the seating area, so a hoop around the front end of the drive shaft at the U-joint is critical for safety.  I still have to put in the  rest of the wires to finish defining the seat area and form the sheet metal, but this won't be too bad as it will be mostly covered by upholstery.  Ultimately, the seating area gets welded to the tail section.  The gas tank goes under the tail with a hose up to the filler.  See the April 25 post.  I've got the bronze casting for the filler, need to polish it a bit and send it out for chrome plating.  I got the filler cast just in time, as the guy running the shop chose to retire early and closed the foundry.  I still need to make the wire forms for the belly pan and the wings that support the tail over the rear of the chassis and hammer out the aluminum for the parts.

 

The engine block came back from the machine shop after cleaning up the bores.  They are currently 0.030" over the original 3.062".  The crank was checked, no cracks!  We're just sorting out which main bearing inserts we will use.  Jerry asked if I had any 0.001" under, but the answer is NO, and I don't think there ever were any.  I have a few that are for 0.002" under, a couple for 0.020" under.  Shims may be needed.   I'm now searching for some rod bearing cap bolts.  Jerry wants to use high quality, modern bolts, but finding 3/8-24 x 2.5" bolts is a little challenging.  I've contacted SPS and ARP to see what they can supply in non-catalog items.   In the end, I wound up with nearly three sets of main bearings and one good set of rod bearings, all NOS from before 1940.  Fortunately, the cam bearings are being reproduced, valves are available.  We'll re-use the pistons and rods.

 

I called Librandi's in Harrisburg two weeks ago to ask about the grille shell plating.  They waffled.  The grille has been there since mid April, hasn't been started.   I know they can do good quality chrome but the wait is a killer.  

 

The chassis is back from the paint shop, needs re-assembly.  Along the way, I'll have to phosphate treat and paint all the other bits that attach to the chassis.  Wray hassled me that I should not have painted the chassis until all the body was done, but my "critical path analysis" argued for painting now, even with the risk of scratching the frame rails.  I know Wray had the best interests of the car at heart.  The gray chassis paint color is the same as on a Ford 9N  tractor.

 

I started generating the paperwork to get a clear title.  Let's just say that this will be an interesting process, hope it works out.  More on this when it happens.

 

So, progress continues, albeit not as fast as I or anyone else wants.  When will it be done?  I keep telling people, "Tuesday, it will be done on Tuesday."  Just don't ask me WHICH Tuesday, LOL.

 

welding tail bottom.jpg

welded tail rear.jpg

welding in tail - Wray.jpg

welded tail side.jpg

gas cap cast.jpg

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As a P.S., I did get a complete 3D CAD file from HUM3D.com based on about 200 photos and 3D files of components that I sent to them.  I paid them to do it, not cheap.  They did an amazing job, got details down to the rivet heads at the correct spacing.  They even added the graphics I wanted.  After downloading their 3D CAD files, I was able to convert them to a 3D printable version and have made a couple of solid prints on my little Creality Ender 3 printer.  It takes about 2.5 days to print out a 10" long version in good detail.   

 

 

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Indy car printed 2.JPG

Indy car printed 3.JPG

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Hello Gary,  What a nice update!  Keep up the good work.  We can probably expect a first run next Tuesday???  🙂  We are all very excited for you!

Al

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This past weekend (Aug. 4, 2019), we went to the memorial gathering for the late Robert Valpey at the family home in Center Harbor, NH.  I brought three of the four grand-children.  We got to see Bob's 1931 Studebaker Indy car the last time before it went into a trailer to go to the Gooding auction in Pebble Beach on Aug. 16-17.  It was in perfect condition, all buffed and waxed, but it was sad to know it won't be there anymore.  I hope it goes to a good new home with someone who will continue to drive and race the car.  

 

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Studebaker Indy car 37 with family.jpg

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